Tuesday, July 15

Under the Rainbow

I'm very stoked to announce that within a week, I'll be presenting the second in our WMS series of gallery exhibitions. This new show is a tribute to "The Wizard of Oz"; one of our many licenses at WMS, and this private gallery showcases just a bit of the passion behind our love of the 1939 classic film.

In this show, artists (and anyone who simply loves the story) were welcome to create artwork for our "Artists Among Us" gallery. Supported by Warner Bros. themselves, this is expected be a great event and a real showcase of our company's broad ranges of style and talent.

One of the pieces I'm putting into the show is called "Under the Rainbow". It presents a vision of Dorothy Gale who has full control over the power of the Ruby Slippers. She can now transport herself from Kansas to Oz at will.

"Under the Rainbow"

Below is the original sketch. I had this vision of Dorothy while I was on a plane ride overseas in December. At this time, I was just racking my brain for ideas to create for this show, and this was one of 3 that I immediately took to. The idea of showing Dorothy in control and carefree was very alluring to me. Seeing her in the eye of the storm and not a fear in the world would show a side of confidence that Dorothy only adapts towards the end of the film - so wouldn't it be cool to see her go beyond that? 

I decided to approach this in gray scale - which isn't the norm for me. Seemed like a nice way to try something new (I usually have my thoughts on color immediately and commonly jump straight to it). Given that this would be mainly a sepia toned piece, this seemed like a natural opportunity for mostly value exploration. 

You can see how squat and ball-like Toto was at this early phase - I just wasn't thinking too much about him here. In the end I would have liked something a little more dynamic for him pose-wise.

Things begin to take shape as I reference farmland images and cloud formations. In my early thoughts on Dorothy, I had her mouth drawn as just a very wide line, which I liked as it promoted a solemn confidence. In the end, I went with a wide smile to make her seem generally happier. Sometimes these decisions just come down to how I feel at the time. I pictured this portrayal of Dorothy almost in an Anime style, so I resisted some temptations to push her closer to her actual Judy Garland likeness, even though I had the reference for her right next to the illustration. 

There was originally a path with a ground plane visible, but that later got covered by dust and debris of a more turbulent storm. All the ground details were the last elements I put in. 

I played around a lot with the intensity of the rainbow. At first I thought it should be bright an vivid, drowning Dorothy in saturated color - but it just felt too forced and unbalanced to me, and I ended up going with a more subtle approach.

Thanks for reading and I hope you've enjoyed my development story. 

Friday, July 4

Summertime Bears

For the EAG summer members show, I wanted to do a piece that fit in with my current birch board experimentation. I had an idea of a picnic ground that had been visited by a bunch of curious and playful bears. Minimal design and colors - something graphic and fun.
"Summertime Bears"
4 - 8x8" - acrylic on birch wood boards

I originally thought of this as a large piece with a bunch of mini scenes - but in the end I decided to keep the idea small and approach multiple bear themes on smaller boards.

After roughly comping out the scenes on the iPad, I printed out the scenes at scale and began painting up the background trees with a thin acrylic layer. I used a stencil to maintain a consistency between 2 tree sizes and shapes.

I always like to keep my environment flexible and fun. Here you can see as I watch "The Simpsons" while I'm working. I'm using this butcher board rolling table as a movable workstation so I can position it wherever I want to be, or for various lighting conditions.

After the initial layers of paint, I added a bark detail and then a very thin wash over the whole thing to soak the paint deeper into the grain and bring it out a little. 

Next step was trying out this boarder idea before I committed to it. I just painted it on paper and laid it over to see how I liked it.

Next step was cutting out the characters from the previously printed thumbnails. I printed these at size so that I could easily position the characters over the final boards and not have to go through the step of re-drawing carefully. I cut out just enough to get what I needed. You can see I cut just a tiny sliver to identify where the top of the trashcan is. 

Here I have laid the templates over the boards. From here I'll paint in enough to get the characters in the right spots. I kept labels on the sides to identify the order of the boards. This order just seemed right at the time - but really they can go in any order.

Now I'm mostly through the painting - things are starting to come together.

I've painted the boarders and details here. I opted to paint the sides of the boards in an orange wash to complement the bears. Here I'm painting at the work desk which has fluorescent lighting and a fan for drying faster. I like to look closer in this lighting and pain in minor bits that I didn't see before. Different lighting sometimes reveals stuff I didn't see before.

Here the artwork sits, waiting for it's placement in the show coming up this weekend!

If you are in the Chicago land area, come on by the Elmhurst Art Museum to see this piece on display. The reception is on June 11th at 7pm!

Wednesday, July 2

Toto on wood board

I have been wanting to try working on wood board for a while so I recently chose a simple composition on a small scale as a good opportunity to experiment.

This piece is tilted "Run Toto Run". I have a particular fondness for Carin Terriers having owned a couple, and like many, a particular love for The Wizard of Oz.

I started with a quick comp on the iPad, and set it up to use as reference.

I then cut out a stencil shape just to maintain some consistency with the "L" arrow shape. I added a mile acrylic wash over the whole thing to soak into the grain, then tinted washes of 3 colors for the stencil.

The character, spears, and mountain were done with a thicker acrylic application.

I wanted to add some additional interest in the framing, so I chose a fabric as a backer to the wood board that was bound to the back of a shadowbox frame.

I painted up the sides of the board as well - allowing for some quick fan dries between steps helps move things along.

I nailed the board to the shadowbox frame backer and positioned it all in place. Seems to hold pretty good.

Not a bad first try - I already have another wood board project in the works too as I'm trying to get more comfortable with the techniques - getting ready for the Elmhurst Guild Summer show!

Thursday, May 29

Chewie on a Tie-Blastin Rampage!

If you had the chance to travel the universe with anyone at all, why not do so with an oversized space ape. Better yet - make that space ape very good at fixing things so you don't need to worry about changing the oil in your flying car. Give said ape a crossbow that shoots lasers just for kicks. Then dress this thing in nothing but a bandolier and there you have Chewbacca - one of the best co-pilots of all time. Putting up with a little musk is a small price to pay for a guy who can rip the arms off of Stormtroopers for you.

This was the result of a little night-time drawn' on the iPad. If you are interested in seeing the creation of this wookie drawing from start to finish, head on over to my Facebook page and watch my time-lapse video to see how it all took shape.

Thursday, May 8

Kong's Revenge - Popcade Art Show

The Popcade art opening is drawing close, and it's time for me to introduce my second painting in the show. It's called "Kong's Revenge" inspired by none other than the Nintendo original that started it all.

Kong's Revenge
Acrylic on Canvas

So what is my Donkey Kong backstory? When I was growing up in Chicago, I'd sometimes get to hang out at a hot dog joint in a strip mall on Cumberland avenue called "Happy Dawg". They kept a steady rotation of two (and only two) arcade machines in the place; a popular draw for the neighborhood kids. This is where I first played Donkey Kong; the simple yet brutal barrel jumping game based on an evil ape that held a plumbers girlfriend hostage. I sure didn't last long when I got my turn on the machine. I'd be lucky to make it to the second screen fireball stage.

Back in those days, I wanted to relive the arcade experience so badly, that I settled for the stopgaps (the horror that was the Atari 2600 version of the game). It sure didn't look the same, but it was close enough. I remember not being able to fall asleep the day before picking up the "pre-paid" cartridge from Musicland (Harlem Irving Plaza location) the next day. Donkey Kong looked more like a brown piece of crap than the ape I knew from the arcade machine, but those were times when you took what you could get.

The Arcade version of Donkey Kong and the Atari 2600 version.
The Atari 2600 cartage box promised a "real" arcade experience.

There were other ways I filled my world with Donkey Kong characters too. I had a set of coloring books which brought me closer to this odd monkey drama. I can't even imagine what the premise would have been in these coloring books - I just remember trying to stay in the lines and do Mario justice.

This painting is an homage to Mario and his nemesis, with the idea of an "obstacle course" universe that was so foreboding, it was almost impossible for Mario to succeed. Kong stands upon a giant mechanical  version of himself, spitting barrels at the hero that seem to have no finite limit. Yet Mario, as small and pudgy as he is, faces his opponent head on with only an occasional hammer at his disposal.

The reception for Popcade will take place 6pm-10pm, May 10th 2014 at:

Rothick Art Haus
170 South Harbour blvd
Anaheim CA

If you live in the LA area and Anaheim isn't too far of a stretch for ya, go and check out the show while it lasts.

Also, I just started up a Facebook site for "social butterflies" who like art updates delivered in their news feeds. Go check it out and see my iPad digital layout and thumbnail captures. You get to see how I started out with the idea and modified on the fly. Also, much appreciated if you give my page a "like" and spread the word.

Friday, April 18


It's time for the Elmhurst Artist Guild's Spring show. With Spring I'm thinking very green - but still wanted to do something with a mildly dark twist. My latest piece is called "Entanglement", featuring an unfortunate diver who at some point got a bit too close to a grabby octopus. 

acrylic on canvas
10" x 30"

Here is a bit of my process leading up to this painting. I've been doing a lot of thumbnail sketching lately on my iPad and I really like how I can do quick compositions on the go with color. 

When I first had the idea of a recently deceased diver, I sketched him out as a loose marionette that was being manipulated by some playful eels. I drew it up, but I was unhappy with how cramped everything felt. A little too boxed in and I was struggling with where to actually place the eels. 

The next study I did was actually drawn with my finger on my iPhone as I was in a waiting room. I tried a different composition that told a bit more of a story - with the eels seen wrapped around the diver's breathing tube that lead down to the tragedy at the bottom. I felt like I had something here, but I just wasn't happy with the limitations of the eel shapes. The floating diver, with his body hunched over, was a bit more of a downer that I intended. 

For the final composition, I went back to the iPad and drew up a similar idea but just changed the creature species. The octopus seemed like a natural choice for more interesting shapes, providing offset snaking with the multiple arms and bulbous head. I pretty much transferred that design verbatim to the canvas and painted from there.

The Spring members show will be on display until May 23rd at the Elmhurst Art Museum. 

Sunday, April 13


This is an early announcement and sneak peek at work that I'll have in an upcoming show at the POPzilla Gallery in Anaheim California. The show is called "POPCADE" and will be featuring artwork from all sorts of video games - classic to contemporary. This show is shaping to be Orange County's largest collection of video game pop art ever!

"Trapped in a Never Ending World"
Acrylic on 3 individual 6"x6" canvas boards

My first piece for this show is called "Trapped in a Never Ending World". A simple and graphic approach, this piece features 3 of my favorite classic arcade heroes, each encompassed by the very thing they are stuck doing for eternity.

First we have the Burgertime Chef, destined to forever walk across and create giant hamburger treats. He gets to celebrate briefly when he completes his task, only to have more challenging burgers to make in the next level and an increased number of living foods chasing him. Mr.  pickle is my least favorite.

Next we have Q-Bert, who I feel the worst for because he's forever jumping cube after cube, only to have creepy dudes chasing him and ruining his cube color-chage work. Colliding with one of these bad guys ends up in a horrible squishing sound which hurts Q-Bert so badly, all he can do is shout explitives. Also, one wrong step off the cube pyramid and it ends up in a splat at the bottom of the machine (one of the best video game sound effects EVER!)

Finally we have Mario, who is forever trapped jumping barrels that Donkey Kong tosses his way. Well, at least the pudgy little Italian is getting some exercise.

The reception for this event is 6pm-10pm May 10th 2014 at:

Rothick Art Haus
170 South Harbour blvd
Anaheim CA

I have a second piece that's still in the works too - I'll have a follow up post closer to the opening.

Saturday, March 22


People who know me well will vouch that I love breakfast. Specifically sweet breakfast - thick waffles with ice cream and whipped cream - the stuff that is more like dessert than breakfast.

There is a great place in Roscoe Village called Orange. They create some of the most astounding pancake flights my tastebuds have had the honor of enjoying. For example, here is a pic of the "Dr Seuss" pancakes from a few weeks ago, and the "St. Patrick's" pancakes from just this last Friday. If you have a sweet tooth - you really have to try them for yourself.

Orange also features artwork from local artists. Ten pieces of my artwork are now on display. Feel free to drop in and enjoy!

Orange Restaurant Chicago
2011 W. Roscoe St.

Monday, February 17

Crocodile Fears

Crocodile Fears
Acrylic on Canvas 
Three 8"x24" boards

For the Elmhurst winter guild members show, I did this artwork that features crocodiles playfully raining out of the sky. Children relying on adult figures for protection and safety, but still seemingly untrustworthy and frightening in their own right. Perhaps they are trying to hide the truths of the situation. 

You can see this on display at the Elmhurst Art Museum until the end of February.

Saturday, February 1

From 4-LOM to Zuckuss Interview

I just completed an interview with the fine folks at From 4-LOM to Zuckuss - a site dedicated to Star Wars fandom. Head on over and check it out!

What's a 4-LOM? What's a Zuckuss? Well back in the '80s, Kenner toys screwed up the names of these "Empire Strikes Back" bounty hunter figures - reversing them accidentally. This site pays homage to this and just about everything Star Wars. Yes - it's that wonderfully geeky!

Tuesday, December 31

2013 Art Musings

Hi Everyone. It;s been a few months since the last post so I have a few things to get to. Good to get 'em all out before the clock strikes midnight in about 23 hours!

First off, I don't talk about my work projects much on my blog, but some really cool stuff happens at WMS. Last October, we launched our first ever "Artist's Among Us" Gallery show. This show showcased some of the personal works from over 30 artists that work in the art department. The company gave us this great space in the lobby for major visibility - and it was an interesting challenge for me; this being my first time spearheading a group exhibition like this.

The artwork was hung by fishing line, so it appears to float in front of the brick wall. I was so appreciative to have the help of my workmates to get it looking so cool!

WMS is blessed to work with so many fantastic artists that contributed to this exhibition, such as Mandy NapperDrew Hill, Javier Guzman, Ryan Bowlin, Hal Betzold, Bob Rissetto, Misty Coats, and so many others.

This fall, my friend Tom Dell'Aringa compiled his webcomic "Marooned" and released the entire story in print. Thanks to the support of the fans, Tom's Kickstarter campaign was a success and I'm truly impressed by his accomplishment. In recognition of this awesomeness, I wanted to pay tribute to Tom, and created this little painting of his story's heroes, John and Asimov. Check out Tom's site and look out for other great stories that he's already working on.

"A Man, His Robot, and His World"
Acrylic on Canvas

This has got to be the most Etsy-like thing I did this year. A house-shaped tissue box for Crane. Clever with the tissues coming out of the smokestack - this was a part of an artist series giveaway at their comercial booth.

Acrylic on plastic

Late October was the fall members show at the Elmhurst Artists Guild. My submission was this underwater lovely with some fish shapes for good measure. Just in a green experimental mood for this one.
"Sea Green"
24x8 acrylic on canvas

The guild is open to all artists, and they have a fabulous space to present your latest work. If you are living on the west side (or even residing in the City), check them out and consider becoming a member yourself.
Elmhurst Art Museum Entry Hall

The December show for the artist guild was an invitational show that my wife Heather curated. It's called "Deviant Pop", featuring the art of local Chicago artists Lana Crooks, Joey Potts, Shawn Smith, Andrew Thompson, and Max Bare.  The show is still going on until January 17, so you can check it out if you're looking for a wintertime activity, or something extra cool for your bare walls!

Setting up for the show

Me (Dave Pryor) and Shawn Smith (of shawnimals fame) setting up his work for Deviant Pop.

So thanks for checking in with me this year everyone! I'm already looking forward to some very cool things brewing in 2014. All the best to you in the New Year.

Saturday, October 19

Crazy 4 Cult - Say Hi to the Bad Guy - Gallery 1988

7308 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
October 18 - November 9, 2013

"Toht's Retribution"
Acrylic on canvas - 24" x 8"

Gallery 1988 is currently featuring their latest "Crazy 4 Cult" show, which is entirely villain focused. I had so many ideas for this show it was hard to choose. I eventually decided to depict my favorite melty-faced Nazi who got his comeuppance, Toht. Such an impressionable scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. As a kid, I remember going through this effect frame by frame on VHS tape. Above you can see my work in progress as I neared completion. Be sure to stop by and visit the Gallery to see this in all it's drippy glory.

Monday, August 19

The Official Edgar Wright Art Show - Gallery 1988

7308 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
August 20 - September 7

"A Great Big Bushy Beard"
Acrylic on canvas - 30"x10"

Here is a show that I am really excited to be a part of - A tribute to Edgar Wright and his terrific films. I have to say, even though all his movies are thoroughly enjoyable, "Hot Fuzz" wins out for me because of all the deranged characters in Sanford. From Simon Skinner to Michael "Yarp" Armstrong, it's hard to choose a favorite. More than anything else in the film - the line "A Great Big Bushy Beard" always stuck out in my mind - thanks to the energetic delivery by Jim Broadbent's character Frank Butterman. My interpretation of this phrase pays homage to the poor police officer that Nicholas Angel replaces - buried (or I guess just placed) in the tombs of the town. There is one quick shot where this phrase echo's in  actor Simon Pegg's head - so I wanted to create something that looked a bit horrifying but still had a lighthearted twist.

As this show is being publicized - some "special guests" will be in attendance for the opening tomorrow. I think we all know who they are! Be sure to get in line and take in all the wonderful art treats that have been collected for this great tribute!